Doctor Who fan sites are often overrun with parents looking for ideas on how to introduce their children to the joys of the Doctor. Let us EX-PLAIN, EX-PLAIN, EX-PLAIN the best techniques to cultivate your little Whovians’ interests in the show.
Before I begin, I should add a minor caveat that some part of me struggles to understand the validity of this question. Realistically, unless you keep your children locked away in a nursery, they must have some familiarity with Doctor Who already.
In my house, it’d have been pretty hard for my daughter NOT to have been very well acquainted with the Doctor from a very early age, especially in times of weeklong marathons, cons, cosplays, Tardis cookie jars, etc. Frankly, we even had a goldfish whose tank was next to the television, who we were all sure fancied itself a companion.
However, the question does continue to arise and therefore it merits some thoughtful consideration and response. As a result, I’ve come up with several suggestions and approaches that could help to grab your child’s interest in the show.
What to consider
Firstly, no matter which of the following approaches you attempt, do take your child’s interests to heart and take your cue from them. Their attention spans and individual personalities are going to play a part into which stories become their favorites.
- Start at the beginning/any beginning, and just keep going….
Children who love stories and constancy are going to relish the character development of each Doctor. There’s no reason not to go back all the way to the beginning, or if you prefer to the new era, or to your favorite Doctor, start from there and keep advancing.
- Select a childhood theme…
Select stories that have children in primary roles, for example The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe, or The Eleventh Hour. That way, they will be able to more closely relate to the choices made, and the dilemmas faced, by the children in the stories.
- Monsters, aliens, and villains!
Whether you love a Dalek or the Master, there are plenty of interesting characters to enchant children throughout the entirety of the Doctor Who show. Some are more terrifying than others, but for every chilling Weeping Angel, there will be an adorable Adipose or a tech-savvy smiling Emojibot. Also, although Classic Who costuming is often poked fun at, I’ve always felt that the lack of high tech design created a deeper expression of creativity; which can to this day encourage true fantasy and imagination in children. Don’t discount the early series!
- Sub-genre specific:
Is your child interested in technology or robots? Do they love music, singing, insects, or history? Doctor Who has it all, so find a story that builds upon their existing interests, and then expand from there.
- Popular one-off episodes: There are plenty of brilliant compact episodes and specials, for example Thin Ice, The Return of Doctor Mysterio, or even Blink, where very little background is needed to appreciate, follow along and fully understand the story. These are highly enjoyable and require very little buy-in for first-time viewers of any age.
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Finally, no matter what episodes you choose to begin with, incorporate your own personal touch. Ask yourself, what have been your own favorite episodes? Who are your favorite Doctors and companions? What terrified you as a child? Which villains had you hiding behind/underneath furniture?
Engage in active viewing, discussions, and debate. Find activities and crafts that allow you to re-imagine a villain, create a Dalek from household items, or better yet, sculpt them out of chocolate icing! Act out the most dramatic scenes with your child, and take turns alternating between being the villain and being the Doctor. Most importantly, remember that the entire point of bringing your children into the fold of this fandom is to enjoy the Doctor and our community, together.
Which episodes of Doctor Who helped define your childhood? What recommendations do you have for Whovian parents? Comment below!